Giving up a double-digit lead in the second half didn’t mean game over for the Pitman boys basketball team on Wednesday, which was able to come back and beat the Gregori High Jaguars. The team relied on getting to the paint and second chance points to secure the 62-58 victory.
“We know they were good and they played tough competition this year, so it wasn't a safe position,” said Pitman head coach Harvey Marable. “We knew there was going to be a big run, because they have some seniors on that team and they’re not going to quit. Our guys just worked hard, they played together, talked to each other and we were able to come away with the victory.”
The Pride and Jaguars played an evenly matched first quarter with both teams trading baskets and turnovers. Pitman was able to take a one-point lead going into second and that is where the Pride took control.
Pitman was able to get to the basket and score near the hoop at an impressive rate. The team was led by senior Robert Salmon who was able to use his size to take over the game scoring and getting rebounds. Pitman took the 44-24 lead going into halftime.
The Pride struggled getting out of the gate during halftime and never got going, losing the quarter 20-0. The Jaguars were able to clamp down on defense and get open during the fast break. They were able to tie it up right before the end of the quarter and the teams entered the fourth square at 44.
Gregori came out strong with a couple of made baskets and forced turnovers to take a six-point lead. The Pride were not going to go down so easily and fought their way back by feeding Salmon in the paint who finished with 33 points and 9 rebounds.
“That’s a young man that has put in time working on his game,” said Marable. “When you put in time over the course of your high school career, it’s nice to see the fruits of your labor.”
With the game still close in the final minute, the Jaguars started committing too many fouls. With the Pride in the bonus, they were able to knock them down to take back the lead. As a last resort, Gregori started intentionally fouling in the final seconds, but Pitman knocked down the free throws they needed to secure the victory.
The Pride are excited to win their first league game, but do not want to get ahead of themselves.
“At this time, I’m only thinking about one game at a time,” said Marable. “I’m not a good enough coach to be thinking about a league championship, what we’re going to do in all 10 games, I’m a simple Joe who thinks about one game at a time. We play this Friday and I’ll see where we’re at after that.”
With the win, the Pride is now 9-7 overall and 1-0 in league. Next up for Pitman is a road game against Downey on Wednesday, starting at 7:15 p.m.